Going to college, high school or university is a big change in a student's life. It brings new encounters, new responsibilities and many new experiences.
That's why it's important to choose a good university backpack that will be your friend and most loyal partner in the years to come. So what is the best backpack for going to college? What are the essential features that will serve you well over the years?
Look no further, we have compiled our different experiences to provide you with the best advice to choose your university backpacks in 2020.
I. What are the key features of the best university backpack?
Choosing the best university backpack is more complicated than it sounds. There are many different brands with different features, so it's easy to get lost. We've put together a list of the main features that your college backpack will need to have in order to give you maximum satisfaction in your next few years of study.
1. A Water-resistant or Waterproof University Backpack
Trust me, over the next few years you're gonna need a waterproof school bag. Why do you need a waterproof bag? Simply because you'll be moving around a lot! Whether it's to change buildings to attend your different classes during the day or simply to go back and forth between your university/college and your home, you will inevitably live these moments (not the best I grant you).
Therefore, having a waterproof bag is a must not to be forgotten. The more years go by, the more expensive items you'll have to carry, whether it's books you've borrowed from the library or your laptop. Believe me, you don't want to get home and take out your wet and unusable stuff.
You will find many waterproof materials on the market. To be honest with you, the quality of these vary, but it depends on your personal taste. Indeed, you can opt for a backpack made of microfibers from plastic if you like technical fabrics, or for a waxed canvas backpack, more traditional if you appreciate the natural and vintage side.
2. A Functional and Organized University Backpack
Studies mean organization. Indeed, you will have to carry many books, documents, and other objects related to your various courses. It is not easy for everyone to find their way around and you can quickly get lost, or not take advantage of all the space you are given.
That is why we advise you to opt for functional bags, which allow you to organise your objects optimally. You will be able to maximise what you take with you, while knowing exactly where your belongings are stored in your bag.
For this, we recommend backpacks with several compartments. Some even have several main pockets, which is handy if you have things you don't want to get mixed up with the rest (e.g. sportswear). Backpacks with external and internal pockets are also a great way to keep your belongings organized. External pockets allow you to place items you use often, so you can keep them close at hand, while internal pockets keep you organized.
For internal pockets, we recommend a mix of open pockets (for easy access) and zippered pockets (for security). For the outer pockets, it is best to opt for closed pockets, whether with clips, zippers or loops - safety first! However, exterior side open pockets or flap pockets are also extremely useful, such as pockets for water bottles or mesh pockets to quickly store various objects (umbrellas, mugs, balls).
3. A Modern, Sturdy & Secure University Backpack
Well, just between us, this is not the part we prefer to discuss and detail because it appeals to the darker sides of human nature, but it is essential to get a strong and secure backpack.
Indeed, as we've already told you, you're going to be carrying valuables. So don't skimp on safety, especially as you will be travelling in crowded areas (library, lecture theatres, canteen or sports halls).
As a result, many companies have looked into the issue and have come up with many technical features related to this problem. Some offer anti-theft locks, allowing you to block the opening of your backpack either with a padlock or a digital code, others offer extremely resistant fabrics, which do not tear and are resistant to stabbing and fire for instance.
It's up to you to choose what suits you best, but even if all these features are not vital in our opinion, what is vital is to have a strong and durable backpack that can easily support heavy loads and your rather nomadic and hectic lifestyle (reinforced shoulder straps, strong grab handle).
On the modern side, here again, it is important to choose a backpack that has a compartment dedicated to computers (a plus if it is padded with protective foam). You will be able to walk around with peace of mind and your work tool (for some) will be protected. Favour laptop sleeve with a velcro strap to prevent your computer from falling out of the pouch. Other interesting features include an in-built USB port that allows you to store an external battery in your bag and recharge your devices while you're on the move.
4. A Lightweight and Confortable Backpack
You're going to lead a fast-paced, hectic life at a thousand miles an hour. You can't afford to carry a heavy backpack that is uncomfortable. That's a key point. You have to feel good with your backpack on your back, or you may regret it at some point.
Therefore, choose a light university backpack (while making a compromise between lightness and solidity). Canvas backpacks are a great way to combine both. You can also look at the quality of the finish, to make sure there are no residual parts that rub against your skin during your travels. Also, opt for backpacks that offer padded straps to cushion the weight.
If you think you're going to have really heavy loads to carry, opt for an internal (or external) frame that will allow the weight to be distributed along your back to avoid back problems that, in addition to being extremely annoying, tend to last over time. To place your backpack properly, choose a bag that offers adjustable straps (and if you wish, a torso strap).
II. What should I pack in my high school backpack and how to organize it?
It's time to look at the contents of your university backpack. To be brief, the main idea is "less is more". Indeed, during your years of study, you will move around a lot. That's why we think it's essential to take only the bare essentials with you, for the sake of your shoulders and your neck. But what is essential to a student's life in 2020? Let's take a closer look!
1. A Pencil Case with the Essentials
It can be tempting to want to take all your work gear with you, but believe our experience, a small kit with two pens, two pencils, a ruler and an eraser will do the trick. The less you have to think about, the more effective you'll be. In fact, a study even proved that the more we reduce the number of small decisions we have to make every day, the more energy we save for the more important ones.
2. A Reusable Bottle
The flask, or reusable bottle, is an essential part of every student's life. An active life means a great need for water and given the length of the days you will have and the amount of brain activity required, staying hydrated is the best thing to do. For this reason, we advise you to choose a stainless steel water bottle that you can fill in any of the university's toilets.
3. A Small Bag for Personal Belongings
This small bag will be useful to store your dirty clothes if you are a gym enthusiast and you don't want to mix your dirty stuff with the rest of the container in your backpack. You can use this small bag to store your lunch, or simply your personal belongings (keys, water-based gel, medication, wallet, smartphone). You can then fill it up according to your own desires and needs.
4. A Computer (and its Charger)
Of course, you don't have to have a computer at the university, but in practice this is very often the case. A computer allows you to bring together a large number of useful features for your student life in a small, portable device. As a result, many bags today have dedicated compartments for your computer. Don't forget your charger, as batteries never last a full day of class. You can also think about a protective shell to ensure the safety of your device at all times.
5. A Pair of Headphones
It's the little extra in the backpack. Having headphones is an essential part of being a happy student. Whether you want to listen to music and relax on your way to university, study in the evening in the back of your bed, or mask the noise in the library, these headphones will always serve you well. They don't take up any space and provide you with a great deal of comfort in your life and work.
6. Wallet, Keys, Smartphone
This section is really adaptable depending on the student, but it is important to think about your personal affairs. Whether it's a telephone, house keys or your wallet, it's important not to forget them at home before leaving for university. How many times have we found ourselves in the canteen without our student card or in the middle of the park without our phone to find our work group? Provide a dedicated pocket in your backpack, easy to access, so that you will get into the habit of checking that you always leave well equipped.
7. An External Battery
In the year 2020, our lives are extremely connected - that's undeniable. Between smartphones, computers, connected watches, electronic cigarettes, the needs of a student are more and more energy demanding. That's why we advise the most technophile among you to have an external battery (of at least 10,000 amps) in your backpack, to compensate for the small breakdowns of everyday life.
III. How to wear your university backpack for back pain prevention?
Sit on a bench at the exit of a college or university and contemplate the diversity of backpack carrying techniques. Each person likes to carry their backpack in their own way but there are 4 main techniques:
The Two-strap-style: it is the most classical technique, is undoubtedly the most adapted to our morphology. The backpack is therefore carried on your back using the two straps, the length of which is adapted so that the bag is well in place on your shoulders.
The One-Strap-Style: it is the technique that appears most often in middle school or high school and shows a certain style. Many students carry the backpack on only one shoulder, like a shoulder bag. However, be aware that this technique puts a lot of stress on one shoulder which can cause severe pain in the shoulders, neck and neck and can lead to long-term muscle problems. This style should therefore be worn in moderation.
The Hiker-Style: Many backpacks have chest and waist straps. Close them and you'll have a real style of backpacking! This style is used for two main reasons: if you are carrying heavy loads, it allows you to redirect the weight of your backpack to different parts of your body to relieve the weight on your upper back. The second main reason is that this technique helps you feel confident and secure, as the straps provide a certain feeling of comfort and confidence when tightened. If you're shy in public, the straps often serve as an anti-stress object to fiddle with.
Public-Transport-Style: It is clearly not the most chic or stylish but certainly the safest style for public transportation. As many bags do not have padlocks or coded closures, place your backpack on your belly by passing the straps normally around your shoulders. You will therefore have easy access to the contents of your backpack if you wish to keep your mind occupied during your transport hours and you will be able to easily keep an eye on it.
To avoid problems of bad posture while walking and to modify the natural balance of your body, we advise you to opt for the 1st and 3rd technique. Researchers even showed in 2013 that carrying a bag on one shoulder would increase the development of chronic pain.
Another point that is not often applied by the different students is to carry your bag high on your back, and not in a "baggy" style by loosening the straps. This position of the bag on your back completely changes the way you walk, compromising the health of your spine.
IV. How do you keep books in your university backpack?
This problem is important because you will have to carry books that do not belong to you. You may be loaned course books at the beginning of your academic year, or you may need to borrow some from the library during the year. In both cases, the general condition of the books is noted and if you return them in a deteriorated state, you will have to pay a sum that can be significant if you have a lot of books.
Therefore, it is important to have a few simple techniques that, at the end of your year, will have saved you a great deal of money! In a backpack, the biggest danger comes when the book opens in your bag and starts (under pressure) to twist or crease. So the important thing is to make sure when you organize your backpack that no objects apply a force perpendicular to your book, but rather a force that causes it to stay closed.
A few little tips have been mentioned on Reddit by users. Some place their books in the computer compartment to maintain the integrity of the book. Others use book-sized cardboard envelopes into which they slip the books. You can also purchase plastic protectors, especially to protect the book covers from friction with other objects that could alter the paper.